Muslims are actually democrats: Turkish Deputy PM

Muslims are actually democrats: Turkish Deputy PM

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
Muslims are actually democrats: Turkish Deputy PM

Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç (C) and Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, the secretary-general of the OIC (L), are visiting an exhibition on Islamophobia. DHA photo

Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said Muslims are democrats by nature during a speech at the International Conference on Islamophobia, launched in Istanbul yesterday. 

The two-day conference, which is organized by the Directorate General of Press and Information (BYEGM) and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), covers the media and law aspects of Islamophobia and the roles theses aspects play in the hate against Islam. 

Arınç said that the ideology of hatred was being promoted with Islamophobia and that it had turned into an element of pressure by states, which wanted to stir things up in countries.

“The idea that Islam and democracy cannot come together is a product of this thought. Muslims are democrats by their nature. There is nothing in Islam that prevents a Muslim from being a democrat,” Arınç said, adding that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was a “rare example” of this combination as the party’s statute stated that AKP was a “conservative democratic party.”

Arınç added that the democracy package, which was about to be finalized and brought before the parliament in the new legislative year, contained new arrangements on the concept of hate crimes.

The government had not defined the concept of hate crimes separately but had implemented it in some crimes of the Turkish Criminal Code by increasing the punishments of the crimes that are committed with a hate motive, the Deputy Prime Minister added. 

International problem

Arınç said that discrimination was promoted in societies and that, especially after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, the world had defined Islam a common enemy. He said that the Muslim community was being targeted and that almost 2 million people with the Muslim faith were being held responsible for any terrorist attacks. 

Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, the secretary-general of the OIC, said that Islamophobia was not only a concern of Muslims but was also a concern for the whole international community, and that it aimed to damage the image of Islam and Muslims.

İhsanoğlu said that the media played an important role in the perception of Islam and of Islamophobia.
“According to the way media is managed, it can have a positive or negative impact. In some countries this is positive. Some media outlets produce one-sided and shallow news on Muslim communities,” said İhsanoğlu, adding that there was an attempt to form the prejudice that Islam was a religion that was not compatible with the modern world.

The secretary-general said that Islamophobia would not end and that some people and circles, who intended to promote hate among people, would not stop their Islamophobic actions but member states of the OIC should work in coordination with each other to fight against Islamophobia.

“Decisions are taken but problems are encountered in the implementation of these decisions. By using the political might of strong states, I believe we can come to a more effective status,” İhsanoğlu said, adding that the principles of respect and equality in society should be reminded to all states.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sent a message to the participants of the conference, stating that Islam had been defined as a common enemy after the 9/11 attacks and this had led to a discriminatory and exclusionist perception. “As much as racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination are dangerous, so is Islamophobia,” reads a part of the prime minister’s message.

Erdoğan said that none of the divine religions supported terrorism and that it was worrisome that Islam was so often equated with terrorism.

A cartoon exhibition about Islam and Islamophobia in the European media was also opened after the opening ceremony with the participation of İhsanoğlu and Arınç. The cartoons on display depicted the European media’s perception of Islam and the Islamophobia in the European media.